24 November 2009

A non-court day. They are more frequent with the Public Defender's Office taking over the felony docket in Jasper County. The judge's are required to appoint the Public Defender. Where the Public Defender's Office gives notice to the local clerk of the cases that must be given to them, the judges are required to do so. The judges have no discretion in whom they appoint to a case. It does not matter if the Public Defender's have more to do than they can reasonably do well. It does not matter if an attorney has represented a client all the client's life in all his difficulties, his wishes are irrelevant. The Public Defender's lobbying efforts have convinced the legislature that they are cheaper than private, contract attorneys. They may or may not be, but I do not believe that has been established with any veracity. For instance, attorney fees are ordered paid by the defendant if the defendant pleads or is found guilty. That money goes into the State's general fund, not returned to the public defender's office. There are other factors that do not appear to be factored into the equation. For instance, is it cheaper to plead a defendant guilty to a some charge, lessor or not, rather than try the case and win some of them. Every guilty defendant has subsequent costs that a defendant found not guilty does not incur. There are probation costs, incarceration costs, counseling costs, medication costs, treatment costs. There very well could be others that do not come to mind at the moment. The criminalization of the people is a costly affair.